An update on my paper reduction project: This is has been difficult but worthwhile. It is, of course, doomed to failure in a number of ways that should have been apparent at first.
A simple first step was to actually implement my existing document destruction policies. Anything for which statements are available online, I keep the most recent mail they sent me. This provides a link into their system and a reminder of my account number if the interweb goes away. Turns out that while I talk tough about this, I hadn’t actually *done* it for the lower three drawers of the filing cabinet. Three bags of shred later, I was much happier.
Then I went through the retained documents and asked “is there any reason that I will ever need this.” Printouts of real estate law for Minnesota, for example, got the axe. Also removed were warrantee documents for appliances that stayed in MN when we sold that house. Et., cetera. I had a disturbing number of what might be called “I’ll get the bastards!” folders. Four or five times I realized that the only reason I was keeping a bunch of stuff was – seemingly – so I would get pissed off again. Examples include the financial advisor who told us to rack up some credit card debt, and the records from the moving company who damaged our stuff in the move to Rhode Island. I mean seriously: get OVER it.
I went after the books on my office shelf and got it down to the references that I actually consult. That’s PERL and Mac OS X Programming. That gave me a spare foot of shelf on which to put knicknacks. I loves me my knicknacks.
I shredded any receipt or travel document that has already been reimbursed / billed out by work. In the future, those are getting scanned and destroyed immediately.
Now it gets difficult: I *like* getting paper magazines and reading them on the train. I think that my current policy of “one issue of any given magazine at a time” is sufficient. As pointed out by multiplexer the Kindle doesn’t carry all the magazines I like to read.
I think that a reasonable next step is to actually digitize the critical records. It’s worth noting that I have thought this was a decent idea for several years, but never got around to it. Passport, birth certificate, and so on. I might also go ahead and scan the lease on the apartment – as well as the insurance certificates. Those seem like things that would be useful to have electronically. Then an encrypted network backup could take on at least some of the job of a safe deposit box.